The New New iMacs

The more I think about it, the more I think these new iMacs might be the perfect computers for web designers.
iMac 24", 2006 Model

Despite being in Toronto for the past week and a half or so, and being fairly inundated by international film culture, I still kept my ear to the ground for news on other interests of mine — if only to keep from being too inundated. And right as we left for Toronto a pretty cool news item came down the pipe from Apple.

No, I’m not talking about the announcement that you can now purchase movies from the iTunes store to watch on your iPod, or the new iPod nano, or the new version of iTunes (which is getting some flak for its super-glossy interface).

No, I’m talking about completely overhauled line of iMacs, specifically that new monster of a 24″ version. I picked up a 20″ iMac earlier this year, and I’m still as enamored with it as I was back in April. I still get a little thrill every time I reach around back and feel that indented power button. Simply put, it’s one of the finest computers I’ve ever worked on. And with the new 24″ version (which features a whopping 1920x1200 resolution, and can be upgraded to a 2.33 GHz processor and 3 GB of RAM), the line just seems to be getting better.

The more I think about it, the more I think these new iMacs might be the perfect computers for web designers. As much as I love the idea of having one of those high-end Mac Pros, I simply don’t need that much horsepower, and I suspect that’s true for many designers out there. I’m not doing video editing, multimedia processing, intense CGI work, or anything that really requires a super-fast rig. The most taxing app I use is Adobe Photoshop, which, to be honest, still runs reasonably well even on my 6-year-old iMac DV SE.

The iMacs are certainly no slouch in the processor department, and with enough RAM (I bumped my own up to 2 GB), are plenty fast. Some might balk at the iMac’s lack of room for expansion, but in my experience, that’s never been an issue at all: my work machine, a “Quicksilver” Power Mac, only has an 80 GB hard drive, and even after several years, it’s only about half-full.

Granted, I’m not loading years’ worth of photos into my iPhoto library, nor am I ripping my entire CD collection to MP3. But sometimes I think that folks get so caught up in having super-huge hard drives that they begin using them irresponsibly and just dump everything and the kitchen sink onto them.

One of the big deals about these iMacs is the fact that they boast Intel processors. Which, with the aid of an app such as Boot Camp or Parallels, means you can run OS X, Windows, Linux, and other operating systems — on one machine. Which makes browser testing, easily one of the web designer’s most frustrating and time-consuming tasks, that much easier.

Add to that a nice 1920x1200 flatscreen display (or in my case, a still-gorgeous 1680x1050 display), and you’ve got one heck of a machine. Of course, you can’t unplug it, toss it into a bag, and lug it around the way you can a MacBook or MacBook Pro, which could certainly be a deal-breaker for some folks. But if you’re looking for a new desktop machine, consider getting an iMac and just pocket the extra money it would cost to get a Mac Pro and a display.

I realize I’ve ignored the Mac Mini up until this point, for the simple fact that I’m such a fan of the iMac’s gorgeous all-in-one construction. However, even the Mac Mini would make more sense for web developers, and probably even many graphic designers, than blowing $3000+ on a Mac Pro and a nice flatscreen display. This is the route my neighbor took, and he’s got a solid set-up for a fraction of the cost.

Don’t get me wrong; the Mac Pros look like great machines. But even with computers, where your better off spending as much money as you can on as much RAM, hard drive space, processor speed, and so on, I still think there’s such a thing as overkill. Of course, I say all that knowing full well that I certainly wouldn’t complain if I were to walk into the office one day and see one of Apple’s lovely cheese graters sitting there are my desk. But for my own personal work, an iMac has been an absolute dream machine.